Queens Public Library Loans WiFi Hotspots through Grants from Sterling National Bank, National Grid and the Thomas & Jeanne Elmezzi Private Foundation To Help Bridge the Digital Divide in Underserved Communities
More Than 255 Devices Will Soon Be Available for Borrowing at QPL’s Lefrak City, South Jamaica, Astoria and Long Island City Branches
QUEENS, N.Y. (October 21, 2021)—Queens Public Library (“QPL”) President and CEO Dennis M. Walcott today announced separate donations from Sterling National Bank, National Grid and the Thomas & Jeanne Elmezzi Private Foundation totaling $85,000 to be used to provide QPL customers without internet access at home the opportunity to borrow more than 255 internet-enabled hotspots at select locations. Sterling National Bank’s grant also will cover the cost of 18 laptops for loan to customers without computer access.
The Queens Public Library Foundation secured the funding as part of QPL’s broader goal to grow its supply of internet-enabled hotspots. Many of the hotspots the Library has loaned in the past are either lost, damaged or no longer work. The devices can be checked out for two months and renewed up to five times.
"The COVID-19 pandemic has brought into sharp focus the need for reliable home internet access for so many individuals and families in Queens and elsewhere in New York City, and it is critical to position the Library to lend hotspots and other technology to them,” said Queens Public Library President and CEO Dennis M. Walcott. “We are extremely grateful to Sterling National Bank, National Grid and the Thomas & Jeanne Elmezzi Private Foundation for their partnership in addressing the digital divide in our communities.”
Sterling National Bank donated $50,000 for 18 laptops and 100 hotspots for circulation from the QPL Lefrak City location, which is closed until further notice for emergency maintenance. To meet the demand for computer and internet service, Queens Public Library will start loaning the devices at a special distribution event Thursday, October 21, 2021 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. outside the library, located at 98-30 57th Avenue.
“Now more than ever, Sterling believes in the importance of bridging the digital divide in underserved communities,” said Karina Saltman, Senior Managing Director of CRA Administration. “Supporting digital literacy programming allows parents to help their children with remote learning, prevents isolation with access to online communities, promotes workforce development opportunities and enables other essential services like telehealth and online banking. Sterling is proud to partner with the Queens Public Library to bring this program to fruition at their QPL Lefrak City location.”
QPL provided nearly 3 million free computer sessions in fiscal year 2019 prior to the pandemic. During the pandemic, when many of the system’s libraries closed to slow the spread of COVID-19, thousands of people stood outside its buildings to catch a Wi-Fi signal. The Library recorded 498,810 Wi-Fi sessions from March 2020 to May 2021.
National Grid donated $25,000 for the purchase of 75 hotspots that will be circulated to customers participating in workforce development programs at South Jamaica Library. “National Grid is proud to partner with Queens Public Library on this important initiative, which is core to our commitment of supporting local communities and workforce development. The hotspots will allow job seekers in South Jamaica to access the Library’s virtual workforce and job skills training, as well as search and apply for employment opportunities online,” said Mauri Myers-Solages, Corporate Citizenship Manager.
The Thomas & Jeanne Elmezzi Private Foundation gave a $10,000 award for 30 hotspots to be loaned out by the Astoria and Long Island City branches. "The Thomas and Jeanne Elmezzi Private Foundation has been a long-term supporter of Queens Public Library and its programming," said Pooja Joshi O'Hanlon, Executive Director. "The COVID-19 pandemic has heightened the need for many services, supports and resources for residents in Western Queens, access to technology being one of them. The hotspots provided by Queens Public Library will go a long way towards alleviating some of this."
About Queens Public Library
Queens Public Library is one of the largest and busiest public library systems in the United States, dedicated to serving the most ethnically and culturally diverse area in the country. An independent, non-profit organization founded 125 years ago, QPL offers free access to a collection of more than 5 million books and other materials in multiple languages, technology and digital resources, and more than 80,000 educational, cultural, and civic programs annually. QPL consists of 66 locations across the borough, including branch libraries, a Central Library, seven adult learning centers, a technology center, and two teen centers, and attracted more than 11 million visitors in 2019.
Queens Public Library—Elisabeth de Bourbon, 917-499-0867, email@example.com
Sterling National Bank—Karina Saltman, firstname.lastname@example.org
Thomas & Jeanne Elmezzi Private Foundation—email@example.com